In December 2006, the Himachal Pradesh Government has passed a legislation banning forced religious conversions. The Congress-led government in the State passed the legislation during its four-day winter session held at the newly constructed Vidhan Sabha (State Legislature) in Dharamshala. Kaul Singh, Law Minister, Himachal Pradesh, said, that 'according to the bill if someone was forced to change his religion without his consent, then he could come back to his own religion within a month'. He has also added that under the bill, persons who had forced or induced someone to change his/her religion then he/she would liable for punishment.
This bold action of Himachal Pradesh Government founded on pragmatic and crusty common sense rooted in the soil of India dating back to the dawn of history has to be welcomed by all the true patriots in the land who subscribe to the ardent nationalism of Mahapurushas like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo Gosh, Sri Bipin Chandra Pal, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Lala Lajpat Rai, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Sri Guruji Golwalkar.
In recent months, five states ruled by BJP or its allies have introduced or strengthened anti-conversion laws, which they say will protect India's religious identity and foster communal harmony. Under some of the new laws, anyone planning to leave the Hindu fold must obtain certificates from officials and affidavits from courts saying they were converting out of free will and not by inducements given by the Church and its agencies.
The ugly, barbarous and indecent incidents in a Christian School in Omalur in Salem District has brought into sharp public focus the nature and the extent of child abuse that is taking place in many of these minority institutions under the protection of minority laws. In this context, the brilliant letter of VOLTAIRE (1694-1778) to Frederick the Great in 1767 comes to my mind.
In this letter, Voltaire, one of the architects of the French Revolution of 1789, wrote these brilliant words: 'Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world- - -Where is the prince sufficiently educated to know that for seventeen hundred years the Christian sect has done nothing but harm?'
I would like to remind all the Dravadian rationalists in Tamilnadu that Voltaire was by no means a superstitious Iyer or Iyengar from Tamilnadu and his permanent place in history can never get effaced or obliterated by any knee-jerk pseudo secular notification of comic pseudo secular Governments in India - be it New Delhi, or Chandigarh or Mumbai or Chennai. In his 'Philosophical Dictionary', Voltaire gave a time-defying verdict: 'Pagan religion shed very little blood, while ours flooded the earth with it. Christianity has deluged the earth with blood for the sake of sophisms'.
About the atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic Church in Goa in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Voltaire in his 'Fragments of India's History' observed: 'Goa is sadly famous for its inquisition, which is contrary to humanity as much as to commerce. The Portuguese monks deluded us into believing that the Indian populace was worshipping the Devil, while it is they who served him'.
To quote the rapier-thrust words of Voltaire once again in his famous 'Essay on Customs': 'Christianity's divine teacher, living in humility and peace, preached forgiveness of insults; but his holy and gentle religion has become through our madness, the most intolerant of all, and the most barbaric'.
When the Roman Catholic Church in France made a slanderous attack on Lord Bolingbroke in the 1760s, Voltaire defended him with these biting words: 'Christianity lit the torches that reduced our cities of ashes, and furbished the swords that for so long covered our countryside with the corpses of our ancestors'.
In this context, I would be failing in my public duty as a free lance journalist if I do not invite the kind attention of our readers to a historic and landmark judgement recently passed in USA by a Federal Judge in Louisville. In his historic decision, he refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the Vatican that alleges a cover-up to protect priests who molested American children.
Louisville Attorney William Mc Murry has declared: 'This is the first and only case which has as its sole objective holding the Vatican financially accountable for all of the childhood sexual abuses committed in the US.'
It has to be noted that the attorney had filed the suit in 2004 on behalf of three men who alleged abuse dating as far back as 1928. If this verdict finally stands, it could open the door for attorneys to take depositions of Vatican officials -including Pope Benedict XVI – obtain copies of church records and documents and ultimately determine what prompted all of the bishops to keep quiet, hide these pedophiles and refuse to report child abusers.
Attorney William Mc Murry has hailed this judgement as 'truly great and historic'. It has also been reported that McMurry is requesting injunctions requiring the Vatican to 'cease its violations of the internationally recognized human rights of children and to report all allegations of childhood sexual abuse in the United States and that he is asking a federal judge to supervise the Vatican's conduct for 10 years'. McMurry is seeking to have the Vatican suit certified as a class-action case, saying he believes there are at least several thousand victims nationwide. McMurry said that is important because the Pope Benedict XVI was a Bishop on a commission that dealt with priests accused of sexual abuse. McMurry finally concluded that 'The Pope knows where all the bones are buried'.
David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said: 'The ruling is a step towards the truth. This is part of a slow but clear trend by judges everywhere to hold wrongdoers responsible for child sex crimes, even if they wear clerical garb.'
Sexual abuse of innocent women and children in many of the Institutions run by Vatican round the world have been brought to the broad Sunlight of public notice everywhere. Belinda Martinez of Minnesota, U.S.A. sent an open letter to the Pope on 19 April, 2002 in which, among other things, she alleged as follows: 'I am one of the vast numbers of Catholics who have been sexually abused by a priest. I am appalled at every news article or story I hear; yet at the same time, I know it will mark an increased intensity in the healing of the victim involved. I am hoping that the Holy Roman Catholic Church can be an instrument of the healing as well. SO FAR IT HAS NOT. Please ask that your Cardinals release the names of priests, formerly or presently accused of being involved in criminal sexual acts, so that the sin of secrecy does not continue. There are still so many undisclosed perpetrators of terrible deeds. We have lost human lives to suicide, mental illness and over medicated adult lives in the name of your secrecy.' Please do not become complacent on this issue. There is too much work to do. We have shown only a small portion of the ugliness. There are victims suffering great grief as a result of abuse by nuns as well. So much more light needs to be shed. It is not okay to concentrate on what you can retain of your reputation, dignity, assets, authority, or respect, if you first do not make monumental efforts to restore those very same things to the innocents from whom they were stolen'.
She has further said in her letter: 'I pray for victims who try to maintain membership in a worship community that does not understand how bittersweet the rituals have become as a result of their abuse. I pray for your ordained ministers who have been left to fix the mess that has been publicly ignored for far too long. I pray for journalists who provide disproportionate trial coverage, causing a naive public to further abuse the victim. I pray for a Church that has not valued fifty percent of its constituents-females. Mostly I pray, because I know I am still beard by the God who made me, even though it would benefit the world to listen.'
One of my well-meaning Christian friends asked me as to why so much of child abuse and women abuse takes place in the Institutions run by the Church. I invited his attention to the razor-sharp comment of Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) in his book Marriage and Morals: 'The Christian view that all intercourse outside marriage is immoral was, as we see in the passages from St Paul, based upon the view that all sexual intercourse, even within marriage, is regrettable. A view of this sort, which goes against biological facts, can only be regarded by sane people as morbid aberration. The fact that it is embedded in Christian ethics has mad Christianity throughout its whole history a force tending towards mental disorders and unwholesome views of life'.
Now Bertrand Russell has to be defend himself in Heaven against the outbursts of pseudo-secularists like Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Arundati Roy and others, all known authorities on the 100 percent purity of Christianity and 100 percent impurity of half-savage Hinduism!